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How to Create a Successful Virtual Auction Event

How to Create a Successful Virtual Auction Event

Are you ready to create a successful virtual auction event? Keep reading to learn best practices, pro tips, and must-haves to raise more funds than ever at your organization’s next virtual auction.


Take these into account when you’re setting up your virtual auction event:

1. Timeline: Start by establishing a goal and timeline for your event. This can be as simple as using a Google calendar or an excel spreadsheet. Depending on if your auction is a standalone event or a part of a peer-to-peer or Livestream event, your timeline will vary. The more elements you have, the more planning and time it will take to pull off. With a virtual auction platform like ZGIVE, you could do this in weeks, not months.

2. Software: It’s important to consider what you value in the live auction software. Check out this article we created to narrow down your search!

3. Auction prizes: In order to reach your fundraising goal, you’ll need a certain amount of items to auction off. Make a list of how many items you will need at what price to accomplish this. Then, prepare a script to make “the ask” to potential businesses who will donate quality, COVID-friendly items. Bidders are most excited about once-in-a-lifetime, unique items they couldn’t get elsewhere. As items come in, begin taking high-resolution pictures and uploading appealing descriptions to your virtual auction software. As a general rule of thumb, aim for pricing items around 35% of market value.

Now you’re ready to begin promoting your virtual auction!


If you want to raise money at your online auction, you’ll need to implement a multi-channel marketing strategy. For example:

  • Segment email campaigns to different supporters.

  • Use social media posts - pictures, videos, and graphics.

  • Blast a press release.

  • Create a landing page for your auction.

  • Use an e-newsletter promotion.

  • Try SMS messaging.

Just be sure that all of your content has coherent messaging, visuals, and a tagline so that supporters can easily get on board with your virtual auction. Entice your supporters with previews of items they can bid on. Most of all, focus on reminding supporters what a good cause their bids will go to. Don’t be shy asking supporters to invite their friends and family! After all, your virtual auction is going to be a fun and memorable event they won’t want to miss.

Running the Auction

Whether your auction is a part of a larger virtual event, runs over several days, is silent, or has an emcee, what’s most important is that your team stays in good communication with one another and its attendees. Here’s how:

  1. Send an email or text message to registrants 15 minutes before the event begins. Give them a little teaser of what fun items are coming up first!

  2. Send an email or text message when the event is LIVE so they can start bidding.

  3. Send pop-up messages throughout the auction reminding attendees what is still live, whose winning, and who won.

  4. Add a “donate” button to your live auction, so that every attendee can give even if they don’t win a prize.

You may also consider going live on social media (or at least Live Tweeting) to build momentum for your virtual auction. Be sure to end your auction with a big thank-you, demonstrating how your charity plans to use the funds raised. This could be an email, text message, or video.


Just because your virtual auction is over, it doesn’t mean your work is done. Immediately send an email to all winners reminding them how they can receive their prizes. Be sure to send a personalized thank-you message to every attendee and bidder within 24-hours to your event. This could be an email, text message, or phone call. A handwritten thank you sent a week from the event is also a nice personal touch.

Virtual Auctions Simplified With ZGIVE

At ZGIVE, we know it can be daunting; finding the right solution for a virtual auction platform for your nonprofit is often a confusing process. We believe in making fundraising simplified. That’s why we’ve designed an all-in-one, convenient, and engaging solution for nonprofits to host virtual live auctions.

ZGIVE’s most popular virtual auction features include:

1. Digital Promo Tools

Any successful virtual auction needs a strong set of digital promo tools. With ZGIVE, you can enable your donor to hear about and attend your auction on any device, from anywhere in the world - quickly, easily, and securely. You’ll have full access to all the easy-to-use tools to spread the word about your event: Text-to-Register campaigns, Scan-to-Register QR codes, and email and social media registration links.

2. Very Easy Set-Up

Setting up your ZGIVE live auction is turnkey. You don’t need any auction experience at all. With ZGIVE’s live auction platform, you can expect a beautiful, modern, and easy-to-navigate dashboard and homepage. To create your auction, you simply click “create an auction,” on your dashboard, fill in the important details of your event (e.g., name, date, time, bid increments, the value of items), and click submit! Adding each auction item from your dashboard is equally as simple.

3. Engaging Auction Experiences For Donors

Your attendees will have a blast using ZGIVE’s virtual auction platform. Our auction experience is fun and simple, and anyone from anywhere can participate! Before your event even kicks off, you can set the right tone by adding a welcome note and a countdown to start time. To simplify the donation process, once supporters click “join the auction,” they fill out their contact and credit card information. They are also given the opportunity to cover processing fees. Getting that out of the way, right away, removes any obstacle from attendees bidding on multiple items without the hassle of re-entering their information. Once the event starts, they’re notified, and the fun begins! They can see who's watching, winning, and won all items in real-time. It’s so easy for donors, an auctioneer isn’t even necessary! For live auction items, attendees can click “up next!”, which makes it engaging and easy.


Want to learn more? Schedule a demo and see how the ZGIVE virtual auction platform works. For questions, email ZOOMGIVE at


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